Terence E. Fretheim, “The Pentateuch”

The author is “a Christian and a Lutheran” (37).

The discussion in chapter one of ways to read the text is interesting and thought-provoking (some politically correct elements creep in, though).  He makes the point that the themes in Genesis cannot be forgotten in interpreting Exodus and the rest of the Pentateuch.  Wikipedia, by the way, says the author is a leading proponent of a school of thought that says God may know broadly what the future holds but not what a specific individual will do, and that God’s actions are therefore not foreordained; that theme is at least alluded to as well.

Annoyingly, he makes valid points in a determinedly PC way (e.g., the Flood is “an ecological disaster,” the Pharaoh is “genocidal,” etc.).  He sees the law as interwoven with narrative and therefore concludes that the former is not static but contingent on circumstances; I can’t help but think that here, too, he wants to lay the groundwork for PC results (the copyright is 1996, so maybe this isn’t specifically about homosexuality at least; rather, the focus in on ecology, more the issue of the day then).

He suggests (167) that the Old Testament may say God created other gods for other nations (cf. C.S. Lewis’s attitude toward myths?).

So the book is okay, but the first chapter or two are the best.

Thought I had while reading this book:  It is remarkable how even the Old Testament seems to have been written for a rather nonexclusive audience.  That is, the Old Testament is not gratuitously insulting to non-Jews, and minces no words about Jewish faults.  This is hard to dispute; billions of Gentiles read the Old Testament and believe in it, after all.